Public Research Institutions

Mapping Sector Trends

image of Public Research Institutions

This publication provides new information on public research institutions (PRIs) and government strategies. Public research institutions are crucial for innovation due to their role in knowledge creation and diffusion. While absolute real expenditure on R&D in this sector has risen, it now accounts for a smaller share of total R&D spending by OECD countries and of OECD GDP. The targets and focus of many PRIs have evolved in recent years. Changing activities, new policy challenges and wider economic and political developments have driven change in missions and mandates and linkages have become focal points for many. Internationalisation has also increased and relationships are frequently collaborative. PRIs’ sources of income are diverse but funding has become increasingly competitive. Funding instruments need to balance short-and long-term goals to uphold research quality and ensure the sustainability of PRI activities.  




This publication is the culmination of work undertaken by the OECD’s Working Party on Research Institutions and Human Resources (RIHR) over 2009-10 on the transformation of public research institutions (PRIs). It provides a rich source of information on the changes and trends experienced by PRIs in recent years, which can be used by governments to enhance debate and inform policy making. The publication brings together extensive material provided by countries participating in the RIHR group, including “country context” notes, institutional case studies and a survey of institutes, as well as national-level data on PRIs. This material provides new insights into PRIs’ orientations, organisational and institutional arrangements, funding, human resources and internationalisation.


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